Activism, Life Rants

Bad Dreams

This week brought to you by vivid dreams about drowning in water parks and having incredibly detailed screaming fights with members of my family (admittedly the latter isn’t always an invention of my unconscious).

Among other things, last week’s shitshow of a Supreme Court hearing has really gotten under my skin.  Accompanied by a sense of doom ahead of November’s midterm elections, this hasn’t been great for my psyche (or the tension headaches that lie in wait when they can sense I’m feeling overwhelmed).

I don’t have anything to add on the Kavanaugh hearings and the composure of Dr. Blasey Ford that hasn’t been said by others much more eloquently:  here, here, and here to name a few.  But (geographically) closer to home another disturbing political development has been on my mind.

This weekend saw my alma mater, Kent State, unwillingly become a rallying place for ahem, “grassroots” gun rights activists very much sponsored by extremist right-wing groups.

Coverage of the event is detailed by the student news site, Kent Wired:  http://www.kentwired.com/latest_updates/article_998c22ac-c597-11e8-a33d-bf61db148c4d.html

If the name Kent State is familiar to you, it’s likely because of the infamous Kent State shootings of 1970 in which members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire on students protesting the Vietnam War, fatally wounding 4.  As a place of historic importance, the area where the shootings occurred looks almost identical to its appearance in the 1970s, and there is a center on campus dedicated solely to educating students and visitors about the tragedy.

Of course I take issue with the idea that more guns are needed on college campuses in light of the number of students who have opened fire on their classmates in recent years.  And of course I take issue with the idea that the so-called Constitutional right to bear arms should receive so much coverage when the growing number of college students who are homeless or regularly go without enough food are much more pressing concerns for anyone in higher ed.

But honestly it’s most concerning to me that some of the protest signs suggested the Kent State shootings could have been prevented if the victims had been armed.  I understand this type of statement is meant to provoke outrage rather than make sense, but to me nonviolent protest is an integral part of democracy and the identity of the United States.  Civil disobedience is a value to strive for rather than scorn–whether or not those participating in acts of civil disobedience receive civil treatment in return.  I find it disturbing on a fundamental level that the appropriate response to threats of violence seems to be more threats of violence.

If there’s one silver lining here in a very troubling story, it’s that many students on campus expressed opposition or annoyance in response to the protestors.  Students rallied with signs and chants, forming a human wall to prevent the march from proceeding across campus.  As a librarian, my favorite response was one student’s sign indicating outrage that the library was closed as a safety precaution.  Image is on Twitter:

 

Stay golden, library sign boy.

Featured image by Michael Weidner on Unsplash
Advertisements
Activism, Life Rants

Some Thoughts of a Political Nature: Orlando and EURef

If you are like me, you are so sick of all of this political bullshit because you care about it so much more than you want to.  It’s vital to have some political awareness, but it also hurts, like getting a colonoscopy or going back to work after your vacation.  As such, I will take a page from John Oliver’s book and reward you for reading this post with an adorable picture of a puppy and kitten who are best friends at the end.  Oh, what the hell—you can just skip to the end now if you really want to.

I didn’t write anything about Orlando because I didn’t know what to say.  Don’t know what to say.  There are levels of hatred beyond words.  I still can’t organize my thoughts enough to say something about my unwavering support of the LGBTQ community and Latino-Americans, shame in the victimization of Muslim, and anger that the right not to be murdered in a public place takes a backseat to the “Don’t Tread on Me” gun-toting mentality of fringe groups in the U.S.

These are a few recent experiences I’ve been processing in that context:

Someone I know (I’m keeping this all as anonymous as possible) admitted her LGBTQ son may be attending the Catholic University where I work (keeping it super vague because I’m not sure exactly how he identifies).  And she is afraid.  Many of the faculty and staff are open-minded and supportive, but some of the students are so conservative and unsympathetic.  Perhaps that’s the way people have always been, but I’ve really experienced such a lack of sympathy for those in pain, those who are different, and those who aren’t well understood lately.  There’s no room for sympathy where there’s hatred, which is what concerns me the most.  And that kind of hatred leaves such a lasting impression on young people.

There was a wheelchair outside the women’s bathroom in the library, which was a bit strange, but I went inside anyway.  Inside the bathroom was an older man just outside the handicapped stall, who immediately rushed to explain, “I’m just helping my wife, who’s in a wheelchair.  I’ll wait outside.”

I said, “That’s okay—it doesn’t bother me.”  But he left anyway, which was considerate but heartbreaking.  I’m embarrassed that we are so shamed about acting appropriately for our gender that a man helping his wife in the bathroom feels like a criminal for doing so.

Men, how can you not be feminists when the patriarchy dictates what you should do and how you should behave too?

On another political note, since everyone in the world has a goddamn opinion about it, I may as well weigh in on the EU Referendum (I refuse to use the “Brexit” word because it’s stupid and sounds like a horrible type of cereal.  John Oliver is with me on this one).  I know the world wants the opinion of another Midwestern American.

I admittedly have a very selfish interest in seeing the British pound retain its value because the sale of my grandfather’s London house is finally supposed to go through in July.  This is the only time I’m pissed about the dollar being strong compared to the pound.

What concerns me the most is the anti-immigrant platforms that have been so successful in the UK and the US.  I did talk to one of my students about the EU Referendum, and how enraging and small-minded it is for the anti-immigrant mentality to persist.  We are so interdependent—our economies, our political decisions, our lives.  Like all empires (and don’t get me wrong, I include the US in this), a slight majority of the UK has had a convenient memory lapse about what it has taken from other countries and what immigrants have brought to the UK.

I’m avoiding reading all of those click-bait articles of reasons the EU Ref is a good sign for Trump because they make me panic.  A man who has been like a grandfather to me went on a bit of a rant about Trump being a Democrat conspiracy to destroy the Republican Party (had to bite my tongue before responding “I think they’ve done fine on that without any outside help whatsoever”).  He also asked if I thought the country was getting worse and, in spite of the bigoted and completely irrational groups on the rise, I don’t.  Our systems are deeply flawed, but we live in a country that is more open, more diverse, and more creative than it ever has been.  How can that possibly be a weakness?

Anyone else in the mood for a political tangent?  Feel free to rant/despair/agree/disagree on this blog.  Just remember there is a person on the other side of the screen.

As promised, here is the picture of adorable puppy and kitten BFFs.

photo-1450778869180-41d0601e046e.jpeg
I bet no one cares if this dog and cat are gay, lesbians, transgender, Muslim, Hispanic, and/or immigrants

Images in this post via Unsplash

Activism, Life Rants

A Few Words About Choice

My intention with this post is not to sway any opinions, but to express my admiration for women who unabashedly support the causes they believe in.

I care about politics more than I’d like to, but I haven’t been one for political rallies up to this point.  They hurt, even when peaceful.  I attended a pro-choice rally a couple of weekends ago organized as a counterpoint to a demonstration at a clinic that provides abortions.  Basically, the people who work for the clinic get harassed for doing their job, and it was especially obnoxious during Lent.

It’s so self-congratulatory.  They wouldn’t do this alleged praying privately because no one would be watching.  Perhaps not a surprise when the current likely GOP nominee is just the one who equates being right with yelling loudest.

Keep in mind these were pastors, religious leaders, who said they were there because they love us and want to save us…despite the fact that we are murderers who will burn in hell.  And that we are Satanist communist pagans, which I really don’t see the problem with.  I admit I got a bit of a giggle when a few pro-choice women started chanting Hail Satan and the pro-lifers believed it to be a literal moment of devil worship.  This is why liberals can be funny but it’s so incredibly painful when conservatives try to use humor—everything has to be literal.

One of the pastors argued that you can’t speak Gaelic and be pro-choice…with a member of our group who then proceeded to speak Gaelic.  That he doesn’t care if anyone gets raped, there are alternatives to abortion.  That all of the Christians there would adopt a child—but have they?  And have they supported a single mother who has no job, maternity leave, or healthcare?

It got really ugly when a pastor told a veteran who has served 3 tours of duty to get back in the kitchen.  And called Obama a Muslin f–, one of only a handful of words I won’t use on this blog.  (Hint:  not the “fuck” f word.)  So many homophobic slurs and the reiteration that sodomy is a sin (but it’s fun).  And abortion is racist because it’s mostly black and Irish babies (I have no idea where the Irish part comes from or why they still think Irish is a race; perhaps it surprises no one that they aren’t interested in talking about Latinas when discussing stats).   It was the only time I’ve heard women un-ironically called “jezebel” and “witch” outside of The Crucible.

I don’t mean to assign blame to religion because I know these groups don’t represent a majority of the faithful.  This isn’t meant as an attack on religion, but on a certain approach to religion.  The mentality that there’s a correct religion to follow, so it’s okay to have a morality complex and talk down to everyone who disagrees with you.  I can’t stand the idea that there’s no room for a viewpoint that isn’t yours (a statement that I acknowledge contains a certain degree of irony).

Some of the cars driving by were encouraging, while others were pretty douchy.  Guess how many of those driving by flipping us the bird were women?  Zero.  And guess how many middle fingers we got from men?  Don’t tell me this issue is about religion or morality or politics.  It’s about men controlling women.

Besides the torrent of verbal abuse, it was sort of the ideal social gathering for me as it required no small talk whatsoever.  Lots of chanting “What do we want?”  “Choice!” and honking and screaming when people supported us.  I truly admire the activists who attend rallies every month and even every week and manage to hear insults hurled at them without taking them to heart.  It was extremely difficult for me to switch gears and go to work later that day without the words popping into my head.

As a librarian it really hurts that people don’t bother to find credible sources of information, which they could at the library.  FOR FREE.  These people STILL believe Planned Parenthood sells baby parts even though the alleged proof was fake, and Planned Parenthood has done more to prevent abortions than Right to Life.  The words you use and the “truth” you spread can kill, so please be careful with them.

You can still feel morally superior and pray for me.

*Image via Unsplash